Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dollhouse and Stargate: Universe Have Best Episodes of Season

This week's SG:U and Dollhouse were easily the best episodes of the current season so far. Dollhouse is in its second season, while Stargate is just starting off, but they've both had weak seasons so far. In the case of Dollhouse, they have had to cut back their budget due to ratings last season, and have some ground to cover from a DVD-only episode. Stargate just seems to have come out of the gate at a trot, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's part of their LOST-like model, but in my opinion, it was a mistake that's hopefully behind. (more...)

Stargate has been limping along, telling a story that amounts to an extended pilot episode, but we got our first truly compelling story, in my opinion, as they discovered the nature of the ship's power supply. I have to say that it's a moment that's incredibly well executed, and while a friend of mine saw it coming a week ahead of time, I didn't. It's rare that SF TV solves had science fiction problems by actually explaining the science behind something, but this they did, and it was a moment that I'd expect from Niven or Clarke more readily than modern television.

I'm still unconvinced that SG:U is going to be compelling enough to keep me watching for the long-run, but this episode was promising, and certainly will make me watch the first half of the season. Sure, the story has been done before (Lost in Space, Space: 1999, Star Trek: Voyager and Stargate: Atlantis have all done the "marooned in space" shtick), but an unoriginal idea doesn't always translate to a poor show. Firefly was, after all, just a western in space and the recent Dr. Who series was just a re-hash of the longest running SF show in history.

Dollhouse, on the other hand, has been struggling to catch audiences up on what's going on. The un-aired 13th episode of last season (it was shot specifically to fill out the DVD contract) set the story up, but since most of the viewers haven't seen it, they had to spend several episodes explaining where things are going. This felt slow and drawn out, and wasn't nearly as compelling as the latter half of the previous season. Then again, I felt much the same about Babylon 5's second season openers, and Dollhouse is starting to hit its stride this season much earlier than B5's Coming of Shadows, which is easily the best episode of the series.

Was Belonging the best episode of Dollhouse? Will it be? Probably not, but it certainly felt like the kind of game-changer that I'd expect of JMS (who, just to throw this out there, should be approached to write an episode or five of Dollhouse and/or SG:U). I'm especially watching Topher's arc with interest. Knowing where he ends up (via the 13th episode's flash-forward), I'm taking particular delight in seeing him slowly wake up to what the Dollhouse is, though he still has no idea of what it could be....

All told, I'm getting two reasonably good SF shows on TV. I can't complain.

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